2012-03-19
2012-03-26

Stanislavsky Konstantin Sergeyevich

Konstantin Stanisławskiborn K.S. Alexeyev (1863–1938), Russian director, artistic director, actor and one of the greatest theatre reformers and artists of the twentieth century. Having acquired experience and a certain level of popularity as an actor and director of amateur and independent performances, in 1897, together with Vladimir I. Nemirovich-Danchenko he founded the Moscow Art Theatre, which gave its first performance the following year. Stanislavsky was its leading actor (to 1928) and director (his work included famous stagings of Chekhov’s plays: The Seagull, 1898; Uncle Vanya, 1899; Three Sisters, 1901; The Cherry Orchard, 1904), although his main role in the Theatre was, however, as a leader of workshop-based experiments in the art of acting. This resulted in the creation of what became known as Stanislavsky’s ‘system’ which, within a few decades, thanks to performances, publications (his autobiography My Life in Art, 1924 and An Actor Prepares, 1936) and touring, became the leading method of character acting. The method was then developed further in interesting ways by Mikhail (Michael) Chekhov, Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler. The principal aim of the system was to develop a method of consciously affecting the subconscious creative processes, primarily by referring to emotional memory and empathy. Towards the end of his life, while remaining true to his fundamental principles, Stanislavsky moved away from work on emotions towards physical actions and developed the method of physical actions. Grotowski became acquainted with the ideas and achievements of Stanislavsky during his studies at the State Acting School (which in 1955 became The State Drama School [PWST]) in Kraków. During these years, as Grotowski himself later recalled, he was an orthodox ‘Stanislavskian’ with an extensive knowledge of his work. During the Stalinist period in the Soviet Union and other countries of the communist bloc, including Poland, a simplified and dogmatic version of Stanislavsky’s ‘system’ was decreed the dominant form in theatre education and practice, with the system treated as an infallible method of realistic acting aligned to the principles of socialist realism. This particular state-sponsored cult of Stanislavsky meant, however, that it was possible to develop independent interpretations of his oeuvre. In 1951, thus in the same year that Grotowski began his studies in Kraków, Polish translations of his text on ethics and also My Life in Theatre appeared. In 1954, Polish translations of both parts of An Actor Prepares were published. Other materials available that proved important to Grotowski were those on the method of physical actions, particularly Vasili Toporkov’s book Stanislavsky in Rehearsal, which was published in Moscow in 1949 (and clearly had been closely read by Grotowski, given his synthetic study on the method of physical actions from 1954). Toporkov’s book was key to Grotowski’s knowledge of Stanislavsky and was often cited by him. Grotowski also made numerous direct references to Stanislavsky, while in the 1990s he declared openly ‘I have always been a pupil of Stanislavsky and [...] nothing has changed in this respect. I simply began my journey at the point where Stanislavsky’s ended because he died.’ (‘Przemówienie doktora honoris causa Jerzego Grotowskiego’ [Grotowski’s speech upon receiving an honorary doctorate], Notatnik Teatralny, 4: 1992, p. 21). At the same time, Grotowski refrained from blindly imitating and copying the ‘system’ and instead insisted on giving his own ‘Reply to Stanislavsky’.

Bibliography: 

Jerzy Grotowski: Artystyczny testament K. S. Stanisławskiego, „Przegląd Filmowy. Czasopismo Studenckiego Koła Naukowego przy Państwowej Wyższej Szkoły Filmowej w Łodzi”, nr 2/3. rok V luty – marzec 1954, s. 30–38.

Jerzy Grotowski: Odpowiedź Stanisławskiemu, na podstawie stenogramu spotkania z reżyserami i aktorami w Brooklym Academy of Music w Nowym Jorku 22 lutego 1969 roku, przygotował do druku Leszek Kolankiewicz, „Dialog” 1980 nr 5, s. 111–119. Przedruk [w:] Jerzy Grotowski: Teksty z lat 1965–1969. Wybór, wybór i redakcja Janusz Degler, Zbigniew Osiński, Wrocław 1989, s. 145–164; wydanie 2 poprawione i uzupełnione 1990, s. 145–164; wydanie 3 – 1999.

Agnieszka Kruszewska: Nie przestawaj szukać. O metodzie działań fizycznych u Stanisławskiego i Grotowskiego, „Pamiętnik Teatralny” 2000 z. 1–4, s. 536–573.

Zbigniew Osiński: Tradycja Konstantego S. Stanisławskiego w Reducie (1919–1939) i Teatrze Laboratorium (1959–1984), [w:] tegoż: Grotowski wytycza trasy, Warszawa 1993, s. 147–184.

Thomas Richards: Pracując z Grotowskim nad działaniami fizycznymi. „Wprowadzenie” oraz esej „Od zespołu teatralnego do sztuki jako wehikułu” Jerzego Grotowskiego, przełożyli Andrzej Wojtasik, Magda Złotowska, Kraków 2003.

Konstantin S. Stanisławski, Pisma, wydanie pod redakcją Edwarda Csato, t. 1: Moje życie w sztuce, przełożyła Zofia Petersowa; t. 2: Praca aktora nad sobą w twórczym procesie przeżywania, przełożył Aleksander Męczeński; t. 3: Praca aktora nad sobą w twórczym procesie realizacji, przełożył Aleksander Męczeński; t. 4: Artykuły, fragmenty, rozmowy, Warszawa 1954.

Wasilij O. Toporkow: Stanisławski na próbie. Wspomnienia, przełożył Jerzy Czech. Przedmowa do wydania polskiego Leszek Kolankiewicz, Wrocław 2007.

Juliusz Tyszka: Stanisławski a Grotowski – glosy do gloss, „Pamiętnik Teatralny” 2000 z. 1–4, s. 574–589.